This study identifies the gendered discourses used to construct symbolic masculinities embedded within a specific context, that of contemporary US agriculture. These gendered discourses rebrand the cultural narratives of the farmer in an effort to increase dependence upon and dominance of productivist agricultural resources. Three central questions guide our study: (1) How are masculinities discursively embedded throughout the formula story of the farmer in contemporary US agriculture? (2) What discursive mechanisms construct and maintain masculinities within these narratives? And (3) to what extent do these discourses contribute to the maintenance of social inequalities? Using a grounded theory analysis of popular farm magazines, we identify a central discursive mechanism—myth management—used to maintain idealized or nostalgic symbolic representations of farming while simultaneously promoting symbolic boundaries about how to be a successful contemporary man farmer. Through myth management, agribusiness revises the formula story to prioritize improved and advanced technology adoption, expert knowledge acquisition, and the increased on-farm consumption of both. Our study provides insight into the critical role myth management plays in the (re)production of inequitable cultural processes embedded within the US agricultural system. A case is made for examining rebranding projects more generally as industry-specific discursive strategies that bolster intersectional inequalities.


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pp. 25-50
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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